A stalwart of the British wrestling scene is bidding farewell to the squared circle after his final match next week.
Doug Williams has been wrestling for Premier Promotions for 20 years and his match in Worthing on Monday marks his final UK match before retiring ahead of surgery to repair a number of long-term injuries.
Williams, who has worked for companies all around the world, said: “I’m not that sad about it to be honest with you.
“I’m still going to be around helping out with wrestling and doing other bits and pieces so it’s not that much of a psychological blow really. It will be sad but I think it’s the right time.”
The 46-year-old grappler has won Premier Promotions’ Worthing Trophy a record six times and is the current champion.
He said: “It’s kind of a throwback to the of World of Sport days which you know I wasn’t really a part, it was kind of dying off by the time I started. Obviously I was a fan of that growing up and watching it and so it’s always nice to go to Premier Promotions, especially Worthing, their home base, because it was that style that I enjoy doing so much and the crowd really appreciate it. It’s just so different from working anywhere else in the world.”
Premier Promotions promoter John Freemantle, who first worked with Doug in 1998 when he booked him for a match on the pier, said: Doug has been arguably the most popular, and certainly the most successful, wrestler on our shows since he made his debut, and it would be fitting if the fans he has thrilled over the years turn out in force for what is likely to be the last time they will have the chance to see him in action in the ring.”
The British wrestling scene has had a renaissance in recent years, with some promotions set to appear on TV every week and, in September, Williams fought for Progress Wrestling at Wembley Arena in the biggest independent show in England for over 30 years.
He said: “I think social media has played a big part just increasing awareness of a lot of shows much more and that attracts that kind of fanbase really which has kind of changed over the years. A lot of shows were based around families and children whereas a lot more of the promoters nowadays because they use modern technology and social media to promote their shows they bring in that kind of, you know, young male fan base which in turn leads to different products as well.
“In parallel with that a lot of the wrestlers are far more rounded than they ever used to be before. They understand far better the importance of looking at the part and getting their characters down as well as being good wrestlers. I think their appeal has increased much much more as well.
“It just seems to be a lot cooler now to enjoy live wrestling as it has been before and a combination of both those things... There are probably other factors as well but the business has worked hard to try and expand and grow and whatever they’re doing is working on both sides.
“I mean it’s quite amazing that in today’s scene the majority of the top guys all signed some kind of deal with a major company really.
“The few that aren’t just need a little extra push really but I think as people move up the ladder it creates space for others to come in take their top positions in the independents and then that generates and motivates people underneath them to work harder to fill the spots when those guys get signed. Going back even five years, 10 years that never happened. No one was getting signed, no one was moving up the cards whereas now there’s a lot more fluidity and I think it inspires everyone to work that much harder you know.
“You’re guaranteed, if you go to a local show somewhere in the country, you can see someone who is a top class athlete right now and excellent professional wrestling around.”
n Doug Williams faces Mark Haskins in the main event at Premier Promotions’ half-term show on Monday 22 October at the St Pauls Centre.
Tickets, with discounts for advanced bookings, are available in person from the St Paul’s Centre or via their website stpaulsworthing.co.uk.